Some political watchers stated Thursday that Governor Pete Ricketts should consider appointing himself to the U.S. Senate or making it happen, despite the poor track record of such efforts.
Some Nebraska Republicans projected in the background that Ricketts would not appoint himself, despite their agreement that he should consider it.
Ricketts is in a position to nominate a successor to serve the seat until the 2024 elections, due to the impending resignation of U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, to become president of the University of Florida.
Governors have self-elected.
Several times in the history of the United States, sitting governors have appointed themselves to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate or resigned so that their former lieutenant governors could make the appointment.
However, should Ricketts contemplate a comparable action? Would there be repercussions? Historically — and Ricketts is a history buff — governors who appointed themselves or resigned in order to be appointed did poorly in later elections.
J.L. Spray, a Lincoln attorney and member of the Republican National Committee, stated that Ricketts will not “rush into any kind of conclusion,” but that he should consider it.
“I believe he should evaluate a large pool of candidates who are qualified, will accept the role, and will compete vigorously. This includes himself, said Spray.
Professor of political science at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Randy Adkins, stated that Ricketts should give himself the post.
A good decision
Ricketts’ other possible political prospects, according to Adkins, are as a “runner-up” presidential candidate or as a member of a Republican president’s cabinet in a position such as agriculture secretary. Or he may appoint himself to a secure Republican Senate seat.
Adkins stated, “The logical conclusion is that he will be interested in this (Senate) position himself.” “He must give it careful consideration. And I believe that people will urge him to consider it.”
John Hibbing, a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, opined that Ricketts has gone to the right over the past several months and is well-positioned to become “a senator from Nebraska.”
The subsequent governor could appoint
Hibbing and others proposed an intriguing scenario in which the Senate seat remains vacant until January, when the next governor enters office. This is likely to be University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, a Ricketts friend, who might appoint Ricketts to Sasse’s seat.
Remember that Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley sponsored Pillen’s primary opponent, businessman Charles Herbster of Falls City. Therefore, Ricketts’ resignation to allow Foley to make the nomination may have dangers.
Ricketts might potentially select a “placeholder” to serve until the 2024 election. Spray indicated that this individual could be former Governor Kay Orr or former Omaha Mayor and U.S. Representative Hal Daub.
Consequently, Ricketts would be able to run for the seat in 2024, as some observers have hypothesized.
Ricketts, a 58-year-old Republican, is in the final three months of his second term as governor and, due to term restrictions, cannot run again.
Ricketts unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006 against incumbent U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, therefore, according to political analysts, he has an interest in serving in Washington.
Ricketts ran for the United States Senate.
Ricketts has been coy about his plans for after he leaves office, but speculation at the State Capitol has always centered on him angling for a cabinet position in a Republican administration, perhaps as U.S. Commerce secretary, or testing the waters for a presidential run or joining a ticket as a vice presidential candidate.
His family, which owns the Chicago Cubs and formed TD Ameritrade, is a significant contributor to Republican campaigns, so he would have financial support. However, the list of potential Republican presidential contenders is extensive, including former President Donald Trump and governors with larger national profiles, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Not a stellar past
Historically, appointing oneself to the U.S. Senate has considerable political dangers.
Wendell Anderson, the former governor of Minnesota, resigned in 1976 so that his lieutenant governor could appoint him to the Senate to succeed Walter Mondale. Two years later, however, Anderson, a Democrat, was unsuccessful in his bid to keep his position.
In 1961, Wyoming Governor John Hickey appointed himself to the U.S. Senate, but he lost reelection the following year.
Hibbing, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, stated that if Ricketts appointed himself, Nebraskans would likely “raise their eyebrows a bit.” But in a state dominated by the Republican Party like Nebraska, he stated that it would not cost him the election.
Voters in 2024, according to Adkins of the University of Nebraska Omaha, will be the final arbiters of whether it would be suitable for Ricketts to fill the position himself.